History, Theory and Practice of the Electric Telegraph, George B. Prescott, 1860, pages 350-352:
A NOVEL MEETING.
In accordance with a previous arrangement, the employés of the American Telegraph Company's lines between Boston and Calais, Maine, held a meeting by telegraph, after the business of the line was concluded for the day, to take action upon the resignation of Asa F. Woodman, Esq., Superintendent.
Thirty-three offices were represented, scattered over a circuit of seven hundred miles. Speeches were made by Messrs. Palmer and Milliken of Boston, Hayes of Great Falls, Smith of Portland, Bedlow of Bangor, Black of Calais, and others. Each speaker wrote with his key what he had to say, and all the offices upon the line received his remarks at the same moment, thus annihilating space and time, and bringing the different parties, in effect, as near to each other as though they were in the same room, although actually separated by hundreds of miles.
After passing appropriate resolutions, the meeting was adjourned in great harmony and kindly feeling, having been in session about an hour.
An account of the above meeting having been published in the newspapers, Punch makes the following humorous suggestions, which are equally applicable to our Congress : ---
"Now, why could n't our Parliamentary proceedings be conducted in an equally silent manner? Do you think Cobden would unwind his many miles of Manchester yarns without an audience? Do you fancy Spooner would go on raving for hours when there was not a soul present to hear him rave? And is it likely that Gladstone, even, with all his love of talking, would talk incessantly when all that his eloquence could possibly bring round was a dial? Now an electric Parliament would remedy all the evils that verbiage at present inflicts on the patience of the nation. A member of Parliament would be able to attend to his legislative duties without stirring from his country-seat. The entire business of St. Stephen's might be conducted in a telegraph office. The whole Parliamentary staff, with its numerous bundles of rods and sticks, might be cut down into a Speaker. That worthy functionary would sit in the middle of his office, like a forewoman in a milliner's workshop, watching the numerous needles flying assiduously around him. When the work was done, he would collect the stuff and report the result. The threads of the various arguments would run into his hands, and it would be for him to sort them. His decisions would be final, and justly so, as he would always have the debates at his finger-ends. The Prime Minister or Prince Albert might look in every quarter of an hour to see that the Speaker had not fallen asleep.
"Under our improved plan, one great benefit would unquestionably be gained. There would be no noise! All zoölogical exhibitions would be effectually closed. Your Parliamentary cocks, donkeys, and laughing hyena would be peremptorily shut up, like their wooden prototypes in a boy's Noah's ark. Really, we see no obstacle in the way of an Electric Parliament. It would, to a great extent, cure the absurd mania for talking, and, moreover, we do not think the speeches there would be half so wire-drawn as they are now. Besides, every little Demosthenes, who at present is not reported, or else snubbed under the obscure cognomen of the 'Hon. Member,' would have the satisfaction of knowing that his speech had gone to the length, at all events, of one line, and, if he were at some distant post, it might run perhaps to the extent of four or five lines, according to the number of wires on the different telegraphs; whilst your Drummonds and your Osbornes, as they indulged in their electric facetiæ, might flatter themselves with the belief that they were fairly convulsing the poles with laughter."